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Mountain View man pleads guilty to meth distribution

A Mountain View man charged with methamphetamine trafficking has changed his plea in federal court.

Johnathan Samuel Tai pleaded guilty Tuesday to possession with intent to distribute more than 50 grams of methamphetamine and being a felon in possession of a firearm. In return for his plea, prosecutors dropped charges of conspiracy with intent to distribute methamphetamine and carrying a firearm in the commission of a drug trafficking crime.

U.S. District Judge Susan Oki Mollway scheduled sentencing for Tai — who appeared via videoconference from the Federal Detention Center in Honolulu — for 1:30 p.m. April 11. If the current coronavirus pandemic continues, the court will allow Tai to decide whether to appear from the federal jail, where he remains in custody.

According to the plea agreement, the penalties for the possession with intent to distribute charge carries a term of imprisonment of between 10 years and life, a fine of up to $10 million, and a term of supervised release — the federal equivalent of probation — of not less than five years and possibly for life.

The firearms charge carries a term of imprisonment of up to 10 years and a fine of up to $250,000, plus a term of supervised release of up to three years.

Tai, then 35, received parcels containing methamphetamine through the mail earlier this year, which he broke into smaller quantities for sale on Hawaii Island.

The agreement states Tai is to be held accountable for 4,525 grams of meth, slightly less than 10 pounds. The amounts include 4,309.2 grams of methamphetamine recovered by the U.S. Postal Inspector from a parcel shipped to Tai from Ontario, Calif., on April 28, and 216.7 grams of the drug seized when a search warrant was executed May 13 on Tai’s Ala Loop residence by local police plus federal agents from the Postal Inspector and Homeland Security.

According to the document, Tai also agrees to forfeit to the federal government $114,639 confiscated from his home, his Toyota 4Runner and from his person; five ghost guns — homemade guns without serial numbers, often assembled from kits; a bump stock, which enables a shooter of a semi-automatic firearm to fire continuously with a single pull of a trigger; a Springfield Armory 9mm semiautomatic handgun; and multiple rounds of 9mm ammunition.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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